Does LeBron Own Blaze Pizza? Breaking Down the NBA Star’s Investment
Every now and then, we see a professional athlete create a flourishing business career outside of the sports world.
For instance, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson are making fortunes post-retirement with various franchise investments.
But what about King James? Does LeBron own Blaze Pizza? Find out if the Los Angeles Lakers star has added “franchise owner” to his resume.
- LeBron James is a part owner of Blaze Pizza, with a reported equity stake of $35–40 million.
- He initially invested in the company in 2012, when it was first starting up.
- The pizza chain has since grown to 340 locations across 41 states.
- LeBron chose to invest over renewing his endorsement deal with McDonald’s.
- Does Lebron James Have a Financial Stake in Blaze?
- When Did LeBron Invest in Blaze Pizza?
- Who Owns Blaze Pizza?
- About Blaze Pizza
- Are Lebron James’ Franchises Paying Off?
- Why Did LeBron Choose Blaze Over McDonald’s?
- A Deliciously Lucrative Investment
Does Lebron James Have a Financial Stake in Blaze?
As if winning four NBA titles wasn’t enough, LeBron James also owns multiple Blaze Pizza franchises. While he’s not the sole owner, he is a part owner.
But how did this partnership start? The NBA player and the company go way back. LeBrons’ venue, the Staples Center, has a Blaze, which existed long before he joined the Los Angeles Lakers.
When Did LeBron Invest in Blaze Pizza?
In 2012, LeBron James made a slam dunk when he invested $1 million dollars in the chain.
LeBron, his business partner, Maverick Carter, and his financial advisor, Paul Wachter (from Main Street Advisors), gave the fast food upstart a shot by opening a Blaze restaurant in Chicago and Miami.
Now with 19 franchise locations, which equals about a 10% stake, he’s considered a part owner, endorser, and investor. By 2020, the company had grown, bringing LeBron’s equity stake to over $35 million.
Who Owns Blaze Pizza?
The co-founders are Rick Wetzel and Elise Wetzel of Wetzel’s Pretzel’s fame. The leadership team includes CEO Tyler Cardon, President Gaston Mooney, Executive Chef Brad Kent, and CEO Mandy Shaw.
About Blaze Pizza
The nationwide chain Blaze Pizza is a fast-food franchise headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Much like Subway, you get to make your own meal. There are tons of toppings (including cheeses, meats, vegetables, and sauces), and you choose which ones to add to your pizza.
The make-your-own-pizza concept belongs to Rick Wetzel and his wife, Elise, who came up with it in 2011 before bringing it to the masses.
Another aspect that sets this restaurant chain apart is its speed. Thanks to its custom-built, high-heat ovens (up to 900 degrees and 60,000 BTUs), you get piping hot Blaze pizzas in just three minutes!
Today, the pizza chain has over 340 restaurants spread over 41 states.
Want to eat like an NBA star? King James is rumored to add 16 different toppings to his pizza. If that sounds like too much, you can choose just a few of their 35+ toppings.
Are Lebron James’ Franchises Paying Off?
LeBron James and his business partners hit the jackpot, as their small investment turned into over $35 million. While he initially started with two franchise locations, he now owns 19.
Still in doubt about the pizza chain’s worth? The company sold stakes to private equity firm Brentwood Associates, and they estimated the company value to be $250 million.
Why Did LeBron Choose Blaze Over McDonald’s?
The NBA star chose not to renew his endorsement deal with McDonald’s in favor of investing in the pizza business.
But why did LeBron James have to choose, you may ask? Although he became an investor in Blaze back in 2012, his deal with McDonald’s prohibited him from endorsing the pizza restaurant.
LeBron Wasn’t Lovin’ the Restrictions of His McDonald’s Deal
“It was a great partnership with McDonald’s; we did some great things on television,” James said. “The potential of what we could make [with Blaze Pizza] if we just put the time and effort into it exceeded what McDonald’s guaranteed me.”
Still, news of his investment spread, and his association with the company gave it much-needed legitimacy.
“When he invested in us so early on, he established us as the market leader,” Wetzel said.
When James cut ties with McDonald’s to act as Blaze’s spokesperson, he walked away from his endorsement payments, which equaled $15 million.
A Deliciously Lucrative Investment
While he doesn’t own Blaze outright, it’s clear that LeBron James’ financial stake in the company has paid off — making him a formidable opponent on and off the basketball court.
Thanks to his basketball career, television shows, and various business investments, including his partial stake in Fenway Sports Group, franchises, and SpringHill entertainment stake, his net worth is estimated at $1 billion dollars, according to Forbes.